Monday, November 30, 2015

November 2015 Challenge Recap

This month I spent most of my time tackling some of the Harry Potter books. As some of you know already, Elizabeth from Book Yabber and I are hosting Pottermas 2015 starting December 1st! During the whole month of December, we will be discussing everything Harry Potter related. If you are a huge Harry Potter fan, join us for the re-read and participate in discussions. Next month I plan to read the last three Harry Potter books and hopefully finish Winter by then.

You can check my intro post about Flights of Fantasy here. You can check out January's recap here, February's recap here, March's recap here, April's recap here, May's recap here, June's recap here, July's recap here, August's recap here, September's recap here, and October's recap here.

Flights of Fantasy books I've read in November 2015

I am glad about how my fantasy reads overlap with my diversity reads. My favorite part of reading diversity books is how diversity shows up in all genres. Please check out my intro to the Dive Into Diversity challenge here. You can check out January's recap here, February's recap here, March's recap here, April's recap here, May's recap here, June's recap here, July's recap here, August's recap here, September's recap here, and October's recap here.

Dive Into Diversity books I've read in November 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thank You!

Today is Thanksgiving and I want to thank my family, my friends, my boyfriend, my co-workers and all of you wonderful blog readers! Thank you for following Nicole's Novel Reads! I hope every one of you gets to enjoy Thanksgiving with family, friends and loved ones. Eat lots of food, help others in need and try not to go overboard with the excessive shopping during the holidays. What we need is more time with each other. Feast like you're at Hogwarts and spend time together like the Weasley family. Just remember to give thanks for all the opportunities you are given and don't forget to give back. After all, it is a day for Thanks and Giving.

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I would like to give thanks to all the authors who create amazing masterpieces, to all the publishers who work hard to promote books, to all the booksellers who sell fantastic novels, to all the bloggers who I have met over the past year and to the the Queen herself, J.K. Rowling. Without the Harry Potter series, I wouldn't be the same person I am today. Thank you everyone for impacting my life. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and please stay safe!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden

Title: The Casquette Girls 
Author: Alys Arden
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication date: November 17, 2015
(first published October 31, 2013)
Pages: 565
Source/format: e-ARC from Netgalley

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

Seven girls tied by time.
Five powers that bind.
One curse to lock the horror away.
One attic to keep the monsters at bay.

After the storm of the century rips apart New Orleans, sixteen-year-old Adele Le Moyne wants nothing more than her now silent city to return to normal. But with home resembling a war zone, a parish-wide curfew, and mysterious new faces lurking in the abandoned French Quarter, normal needs a new definition.

As the city murder rate soars, Adele finds herself tangled in a web of magic that weaves back to her own ancestors. Caught in a hurricane of myths and monsters, who can she trust when everyone has a secret and keeping them can mean life or death? Unless . . . you’re immortal.

My Thoughts

After the events of Hurricane Katrina, Adele Le Moyne returns home to New Orleans only to see her home in shambles. Adele is independent and is coping with her newfound powers where she finds some of New Orleans’ supernatural creatures. Alys Arden weaves historical fiction with paranormal fantasy, creating a world of witches, vampires and the paranormal integrating in Louisiana. This definitely reminds me of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals TV series. With the Italian brothers, Niccolo and Gabriel, how can I not compare them to the Salvatore brothers.

The novel is enthralling and the world building is captivating. I enjoyed the descriptive prose but the slight love triangle/square was a little off putting. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina is real and it’s interesting to see it being portrayed in YA literature. The Casquette Girls is definitely a page-turner.

The Casquette Girls would be a good novel for my students to immerse themselves in both worlds of fantasy and historical fiction. There is enough magic and action to encourage readers to give historical fiction a chance. Because Hurricane Katrina occurred fairly recently, readers can sympathize with the aftermath of the traumatic and life changing event.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bookish Gift Guide: All the Little Things

I know it's only November but face it, the holiday season is so busy. Whether you are cooking, baking, decorating the house, going caroling or attending holiday parties, the more you have time to plan out gifts ahead of time the better. I already mentioned some wonderful literary clothing and accessories to gift to loved ones but what about items like candles and bookmarks? I included a couple of accessories in this guide as well because you can never have too many bookish accessories.

1. The Melting Library | By the Wyrd Collection - Throne of Glass Inspired Candles - $18.00
The Melting Library has a good variety of literary inspired candles for all of your bookish friends and family members. I am not a big fan of Sarah J. Maas books but I know a lot of my blog readers are. This candle duo features Fae Warrior (Rowan) and Fireheart (Aelin). The Fae Warrior smells like pine and snow while Fireheart gives a throw of lemon verbena, jasmine and crackling fire. These scents are definitely up my alley and are perfect for the winter! Also, who doesn't like the cute library date card labels?

2. Form and Flux | Enchanted Library Candle - $14.86
Who doesn't like the smell of pages of books? This soy candle has aromas of vanilla, parchment, honey and coffee beans. It's as if you were surrounded by shelves of books.

3. Anthology Candles | Wardrobe Into Narnia Candle - $16.00
Do you remember the Chronicles of Narnia? Well this 8 oz. soy candle smells just like Narnia with the scent of cedar wood, juniper trees, winter berries and crisp winter air. This makes a perfect candle for the colder months.

4. Paddywax | Edgar Allan Poe Library Candle - $21.00
Paddywax makes some amazing candles and I am in love with their library candle collection. Of course I had to showcase Poe because he's one of my literary classic favorites. The soy candle's fragrance includes notes of cardamom, absinthe and sandalwood. Check out Paddywax for additional scents and collections.

5. The Raspberry Finch | Tea and Books Wooden Pin - $12.41+
How cute is this wooden pin? Proudly share you love for tea and books!

6. Outop | Wooden Scholar's Antique Book Tissue Box Dispenser - $15.75
The temperatures are dropping and more people are getting the sniffles. Although many people are getting sick this time of year, at least you can be sick with bookish style. How cute is this tissue box cover?

7. The Literary Gift Company | So Many Books! Bookends - £15.95
You can never have too many books and why not showcase your favorite books between some awesome bookends? You have to agree there is not enough time to read all the books.

8. BookedYouUp | Once Upon A Time Magnetic Bookmark Set! - $2.50/each and $11.00/set
How cute are these bookmarks? BookYouUp also carries a variety of other fandoms including Percy Jackson, The Mortal Instruments and The Young Elites.

9. Happy Hello Co. | Protectors Magnetic Bookmarks - $13.85
Happy Hello Co. makes some of the cutest fandom bookmarks I have ever seen. The Protectors aka The Mortal Instruments set is definitely one of my favorite sets on the website. I currently own the
Between Angels and Demons set and they are perfect!

10. The Geeky Cauldron | Birds Tattoo Necklace - $10.00
Have a friend or family member that loves Divergent? Gift them a necklace similar to Tris Prior's tattoo.

11. Evie Seo | Books are Uniquely Portable Magic Mug - $15.00
Evie Seo has some amazing quotes designs on Society6. Not only are the quotes amazing but she has stunning artwork that goes well with each quote. Make a bookish friend or family member's day with a bookish mug, tote bag or T-Shirt.

12. Decal On Top | The Giving Tree Decal Sticker Vinyl - $9.99
This cute decal will transform any Macbook into a literary piece of art. Decal On Top features a bunch of different decals and not just for the MacBook. There are quote and other fandom decals for your wall, computer and car.

13. Topatoco | Card Catalog Flash Drive - $20.00
This adorable flash drive is in the shape of a card catalog drawer and holds 8 GB. This will be perfect to save your manuscripts or blog posts to bring on the go.
14. Danika58 | Book Washi Tape - $3.90
Do you have someone on your list who loves planners, journaling and/or crafting? I bet they will love this cute bookish washi tape to decorate their pages and cards.

15. Lithographs | Romeo and Juliet Book Tote - $29.00
Lithographs creates art from entire text from a book. You can choose from tote bags, T-shirts and posters. They have a variety of classics to more modern titles. According to the Lithographs website, the tote bags are highly water-resistant and include a five-inch inner pocket. They measure 17"w x 14.75"h, with a 9" hanging strap and flat bottom. The average Litographs tote bag contains approximately 20,000 words. This is definitely a fun, unique yet useful gift.

16. Literary Lacquer | Felix Felicis Nail Polish - $10.00
As some of you might know, I am an indie nail polish addict. I am always on the look out for unique polishes from some of the best indie nail polish creators. Literary Lacquer creates polishes inspired by books. How cool is that? This particular nail polish is inspired by the lucky potion in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

If you every need recommendations for indie nail polish companies, please let me know. I can provide a fairly lengthy list of companies to check out. Also, check out my Harry Potter Gift Guide on Friday, December 4th. This will be part of the Pottermas 2015 month long feature where Elizabeth from Book YAbber and I will be talking about Harry Potter all December long!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Overcoming Reading Slumps

No one likes to be in a reading slump but it happens even to the best of us. You can never anticipate a slump unless you know you will be busy and you won't have time to read. However, for most people, reading slumps just pop out of know where. So how do you get out of that slump?

Taking a break. Sometimes you need to take a break from reading and do other things. Get some fresh air and take a walk, bake or cook, run some errands or partake another hobby for the time being. Your brain might need a rest from all the reading you've been doing.

Read a different book/genre. If you're like me, you might be a mood reader. Sometimes I might be half way done with book and I just don't feel like continuing. That's totally fine because I can always put down the book and start a new one. This often happens when I feel like reading a book with a different genre. One day I might feel like reading fantasy and the next day I might pick up a contemporary.

Buddy read or join a read-a-long. Sometimes it's easier to read a book when you have someone to share your opinions and thoughts with. It makes the reading experience more interesting because you can discuss the book with a fellow buddy.

Re-read a favorite. Everyone has a list of their favorite books. Maybe you just need a change in pace and a reason why you love to read. Revisiting a favorite book will remind you why you love reading so much and a favorite book is always book you would want to read. It won't feel forced.

Limit distractions. Are you the type of reader that needs all attention on the book? Maybe you might want to turn off the TV or choose a time of day when it's quiet. Perhaps you're always on your phone tweeting or checking instagram. Put aside your phone and on silent for the duration you plan to read.

Try an audiobook. Maybe you just need a change of media? Why not try an audiobook? This is especially helpful when you are swamped and need the time to do other things. You can multi-task and not feel bad for not reading. Using different senses actually might help you understand a book differently as well.

Watch a BookTube video. Sometimes when I am in a slump, I like to watch a BookTube video or have it playing in the background when I am blogging. Seeing BookTubers talking about books and sharing their thoughts definitely puts me in the mood to pick up a book.

Blog. Sometimes blogging will help those creative juices churn and sometimes it will help put your mind at ease. With all these bookish thoughts swirling in your head, it may be nice to let go of these thoughts in a bookish related blog post. This way you brain isn't bogged down.

Read at your own pace. Reaching a goal of how many books to read is always a challenge but never force yourself to read a certain amount of books or pages in a given time period. Reading is suppose to be fun and not a chore. Don't forget that not all books are the same length. Mix it up and pick up a graphic novel or a shorter in length book if it helps you reach your goal.

Stop and move on.  Don't force yourself to read a book. If you do, you won't enjoy the book to its full potential. If the above tips don't work, then maybe the book is not for you. If you still feel like you're in a slump, you might feel like not finishing the book. And that's okay. Some books are not for you and it's okay not to like every book you read. A book that is a five star for one person might be a DNF for another. Just scrap the book off the list and move on.

Don't forget, read for fun! You shouldn't have to force yourself to read. There is no set amount of books that you HAVE to read. Just read because you WANT to read. Happy reading everyone!

If you are currently in a middle of a reading slump, why not pick up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Book YAbber and I are planning to have discussions about everything Harry Potter in December. Pottermas 2015 is a month long feature about our favorite series, Harry Potter. Join the read-a-long now and get out of your reading slump! Use the hashtag #Pottermas15 on social media. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication date: October 6, 2015
Pages: 522
Source/format: Purchased  // Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

My Thoughts

It's crazy how Carry On is about fictional characters from a fictional book called Fangirl. Now Fangirl is one of my all time favorite books and I HAD to read Carry On even though it's meta. Now, this is Rainbow Rowell's version of the Simon Snow series. This is NOT Cath's fan fiction and this is NOT a Gemma T. Leslie's novel.

Simon Snow, an orphan, is the Chosen One based on a prophecy. The Insidious Humdrum is the greatest evil and threat to Watford, the ultra exclusive boarding school for magicians. When Simon turned 11-years-old, the Mage visited young Simon at a children's house and brought him to Watford's to be trained as a Magician. However, Simon didn't know he will be the one facing the Humdrum.

According the the prophecy:

And one will come to end us
And one will bring his fall
Let the greatest power of powers reign
May it save us all

The novel is multi-perspective and it could confuse some readers at time. Rowell made it clear who is talking for each chapter since the speaker's name is listed under the chapter number. However, it is hard to figure out what happened during Simon's earlier years of life. Since Simon is in his 8th year at Watford's, readers miss out on seven years of adventures and discoveries. It's like reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and not reading the first six books in the series.

Simon and his girlfriend, Agatha, feelings for each other are constantly waning and they end up breaking up. His best friend, Penelope is always there for him in a Hermione like way. I love the banter between Simon and Penelope. I didn't really care for Agatha since Agatha annoyed me at times throughout the novel. Simon and Agatha didn't share a connection at all but then comes Baz.

The fact that Simon Snow is the most powerful magician alive. That nothing can hurt him, not even me.
That Simon Snow is alive.
And I'm hopelessly in love with him. 

Carry On is quite nostalgic for me. Not only is Carry On similar to Harry Potter, but it also brings me back to my teenage years when I use to read a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction. Carry On has a lot of parallels with Harry Potter. My sister and I loved reading Harry Potter fan fiction whether it be regular or slash fan fiction. Baz and Simon reminds me of Draco and Harry. I used to read a lot of Drarry fan fiction so reading about Simon and Baz definitely hit home. BAZ! OMG! BAZ! He's definitely my favorite character! I love how snarky he is. He reminds me of a blend of Draco and Severus. And who doesn't like his full name, Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch?

I wish Rowell went into more detail about the setting of the magical world. There wasn't enough description and what I love about any book is an author thoroughly describing the surroundings. I also wish Rowell elaborated more on the Mage's intentions since it isn't fully fleshed out and I want to know about the Coven, Old Families and the World of Mages. The Humdrum had barely any background information as well. I was bothered by how some of the American words slipped into the British setting. Agatha says Merry Christmas instead of Happy Christmas.

Overall, I enjoyed the book but the ending felt rushed. All the action happens in Book 4. Also, without prior knowledge of Simon's other seven years and his past, readers need to fill in the gaps quickly. Rainbow writes with magic. I mean who doesn't like Simon and Baz? I wish there were more romance between Simon and Baz. Maybe I am just too hopeful. If you're having Harry Potter and/or Fangirl withdrawals, definitely pick up Carry On

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Top Ten Quotes I Loved From Books I Read In The Past Year Or So

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to choose their top ten quotes they loved from books they read in the past year or so. Of course I added a quite a few quotes from books I read in 2015. The following quotes are in no particular order.

1. “When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”
- Kim Liggett, Blood and Salt

2. “Maybe life just tastes sweeter after you’ve licked death.” 
- Stacey Lee, Under a Painted Sky

3. Fear motivates, more than love or ambition or joy. Fear is more powerful than anything else in the world. - Marie Lu, The Rose Society

4. Love between friends could create life. 
- Betsy Cornwell,  Mechanica

5. “I told you before, we’re the center,” she said. “And the center will hold.” - Richelle Mead, The Ruby Circle

6. “You're a kaleidoscope, you change every time I look away.” 
- Rainbow Rowell, My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

7. “There's a Korean word my grandma taught me. It's called jung. It's the connection between two people that can't be severed, even when love turns to hate. You still have those old feelings for them; you can't ever completely shake them loose of you; you will always have tenderness in your heart for them.” - Jenny Han, P.S. I Still Love You

8. “People come in and out of your life. For a time they are your world; they are everything. And then one day they’re not. There’s no telling how long you will have them near.” - Jenny Han, P.S. I Still Love You  

9. “Knowing what happens is different from knowing how it happens. And the getting there is the best part.” - Emery Lord The Start of Me and You

10. A blank canvas...has unlimited possibilities.” - Stephanie Perkins, Isla and the Happily Ever After

11. Love is being willing to become the villain so that the one you love can stay a hero. - Josephine Angelini, Firewalker

12. “I know you aren't perfect. But it's a person's imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.”  - Stephanie Perkins, Lola and the Boy Next Door

13. “Life isn’t about what you get, it’s about what you DO with what you get.” - Stephanie Perkins, Lola and the Boy Next Door

14. “You have to pretend you get an endgame. You have to carry on like you will; otherwise, you can't carry on at all.” - Rainbow Rowell, Carry On

15. “You were the sun, and I was crashing into you.” - Rainbow Rowell, Carry On

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bookish Gift Guide: Literary Clothing and Accessories

It's that time of year for the holiday cheer! Do you have a lot of bookish people on your list and have no idea what to get them for this holiday season? I compiled a list of a gifts for your stylish and bookish friends and family members. I will also be having two more gift guides later this month and the first week of December. One will be an overall bookish gift guide and the latter will be a Harry Potter themed gift guide. Don't miss out!

1. Cyberoptix | Library Due Date Book Scarf - $44.00
This lovely scarf will keep you warm and fashionable with a bookish flair. Remember those old due date cards in library books? Reminiscence about the past!

2. Complements by Jo | Book Lovers High Waist Skirt - $58.00
Want to show your love for books to the world? Why not give it a twirl with this wonderful skirt.

3. Mod Cloth | Got My Number Two Socks - $11.99
These Number 2 pencil knee highs will keep your legs warm in a nerdy way. Keep your brain sharp!

4. Mod Cloth | I've Tread Them Socks - $11.99
Check out these adorable socks with the little colorful books. This provides small pops of color within your wardrobe. They will also keep your feet toasty warm!

5. Red Bubble | Carry On Last Name T-shirt - $24.80
For all the Carry On fans out there, you will love this shirt! Venture off with Simon Snow, Tyrannus Basilton "Baz" Grim-Pitch, Penelope Bunce and Agatha Wellbelove. The shirt comes in a multitude of colors.

6. Whoviandrea | Multi-fandom V-neck Tee - $25.00
This shirt is perfect for the person who loves all fandoms including Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Fault In Our Stars, Divergent and Percy Jackson!

7. Out of Print | Library Stamp T-shirt - $28.00
Want something simple yet is nostalgic? Take a look at this T-shirt with multiple library stamp marks on it. It also comes in navy blue. Out of Print has a lot of classic book designs and has a website worth visiting. Some classics include 1984, Madeline, The Great Gatsby and Pride & Prejudice.

8. Society 6 | Book is a Dream T-shirt - $24.00
This T-shirt is great for the book lover and the dreamer. Society 6 provides a variety of colors to choose from. Definitely check out the totes and mugs too! They make awesome gifts!

9. Storiarts | The Raven Writing Gloves -$26.00
Storiarts has some pretty fantastic writing gloves in a variety of classic literature prints. You are bound to find a classic to gift to your family or friends. Keep you hands warm while typing your latest manuscript.

10. Storiarts | Alice in Wonderland Scarf - $48.00
Storiarts also carries a multitude of classic literature scarves. These scarves are an excellent way to show your interest for your favorite classics while keeping warm and staying bookish fashionable. How cute is this Alice in Wonderland print?

11. HazelThreads | Literary Bookshelf Headband - $9.00
Hair accessories are always great and why not spice it up the everyday hairstyle with a bookish headband?

12. DFTBA Risa Rodil | Rainbow Rowell Eleanor & Park T-shirt - $20.00
Eleanor & Park fans will love this T-shirt. How cool is the old school tape cassette?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pottermas 2015

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Elizabeth from Book YAbber and I decided to do a fun filled December feature showcasing our favorite fantasy series, Harry Potter! This feature, Pottermas , will be broken down into book discussions, general HP discussions, HP gift guide, HP trivia and perhaps a fun recipe for Butterbeer. We will be doing a re-read of the ENTIRE Harry Potter series from now until end of December. If you want to join the read-a-long, go grab your copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone pronto. Of course the first few books will be a breeze to read through but once we hit Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it will take longer to read each book. If you want to take part in discussions on Twitter, use the hashtag #Pottermas15. Also, we have a button you can share on your blog if you decide to participate in Pottermas! The photo can be resized with HTML to fit your blog's dimensions.

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Not only is this a great way to relive the magic of the Wizarding World but this is a great opportunity to catch all the details you've missed before. Formalize theories and see where J.K. Rowling foreshadowed events in her earlier books. And of course, what better time to read the Harry Potter series than during the time of cheer and joy. The holidays are not the same without Harry Potter.

Also, don't forget to check both blogs on December 1st! We can't wait to share the magic!

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